Education reform is a hot topic right now, and last week's discussions asserted that this change for the better will begin only when the United States decides to value teachers again.
Comparisons were made to developing nations that are quickly surpassing the U.S.: Vicki Phillips writes: "What did these nations do to change their trajectory? According to Jensen, they focused on the things known to matter in classrooms: a relentless, practical focus on learning; the creation of a strong culture of teacher education, research, collaboration, mentoring, feedback, and sustained professional development. 'The role of teachers is essential,' Jensen concludes, ‘they are partners in reform.'"
And Gene Carter comments: "These emerging nations are broadening their curricula, creating communicative, imaginative, tech-savvy, multilingual students who are prepared for jobs that do not yet exist. Likewise, educators are revered in these nations and an intense focus is placed on attracting the best and brightest to teaching."
For me it makes perfect sense. Why would the educational system not support the 'strong culture' for teachers, noted above? They are the people with direct contact and impact on the children. In addition to the discussions on improving support for teachers, there are two facets of educational reform that have been introduced to me, that I find particularly interesting: creating a classroom culture where it is okay to fail and how restorative practices can be applied in education.
Liz Dwyer sums up how creating a classroom culture where it is okay to fail shifts the focus of learning: "The findings challenge the cultural belief that achievement reflects students' academic ability. If we truly want students to excel, Autin says, teachers and parents must stop "focusing solely on grades and test scores" and emphasize progress instead."
Restorative practices provide another shift for education, in how teachers, parents, and other authority figures interact with the children. The International Institue for Restorative Practices offers a brief overview of this concept: "[Restorative practice] is a new field of study that has the potential to positively influence human behavior and strengthen civil society around the world. The fundamental premise is: People are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them."
The biggest players in education reform will be teachers and other positions of authority that directly impact the day-to-day interactions with the students–why not support them in every way possible?